Back at the Quantified Self conference in June

Quantified Self 2011

I’m back at the Quantified self conference and it’s been a few years since due to scheduling and other conflicts. It’s actually been a while since I talked about the Quantified self mainly because I feel it’s so mainstream now, few people even know what it is, although they use things like Strava, fitbits, etc.

The line up for the Quantified self confidence is looking very good and there’s plenty of good sessions for almost every palette and I’ll be heading up this session while at the conference.

Using Your Data To Influence Your Environment

With home automation tools, it is now possible for your personal data to influence your environment. Soon, your personal data could be used to influence how a movie is shown to you! Let’s talk about the implications and ethics of data being used this way.

Its basically centered around the notion our presence effects the world around us. Directly linking Perceptive media and the Quantified self together. Of course I’m hoping to tease out some of the complexity of data ethics with people who full understand this and have skin in the game as such.

I’m also looking to report back on this conference and restart the manchester quantified self group which went quiet a while ago.

Storj: A p2p decentralised storage model

Storj: Decentralizing Cloud Storage from Storj on Vimeo.

Storj is an open-source, decentralized, cloud storage platform. It is based on the cryptocurrency Bitcoin’s (BTC) blockchain technology and peer-to-peer protocols. The Storj network uses its own cryptocurrency, Storjcoin X (SJCX), while its front-end software supports the use of other digital currencies such as Bitcoin and more traditional forms of payment like the dollar. Unlike traditional cloud storage providers, Storj keeps data spread across a decentralized network eliminating the problem of having a single point of failure. It also encrypts all data making it impossible for anyone, including Storj, to snoop on users’ files without having a user’s private encryption key. In return for offering storage space to the network, users are paid cryptocurrency.

Imagine storing all your private data across other peoples drives in encrypted form? Imagine getting paid to store this encrypted data?

Well this is Storj and its frankly quite an amazing concept whoses time as come.

This is a very attractve setup for someone like me with many terabytes of storage and hyperfast broadband. Unlike the risks of running an Tor exit node, everything is strongly encrypted and the host has zero knowledge of whats being stored or transfered.

I already have an account as I’d be interested to see how it works. First heard on Steal this show, how the swarm will beat the cloud.

Open collaborative recipes for everyone?

Cooking!
Imagine if you took GNOME Recipes, A open collaborative cookbook whose cuisine is curated by people; and made its core object based like in BBC R&D’s Cook along kitchen experience aka (CAKE)

You could write tools and editors to make the recipes have everything needed to fit with the cooks skill level, ingredients, time, allergies, preferences, party size, etc… I mean who wouldn’t want to describe every aspect of their special dish? (I’m avoiding the copyright/licensing questions for now)

Now that would be something, Clasen? And what better community to kick start such a thing? Dare I bring up the BBC recipe headlines only 6 months ago.

Seems like a no brainier to me?

The time traveling web

memento

I read about W3C’s project Memento a while ago but its become a reality recently.

The Memento protocol is a straightforward extension of HTTP that adds a time dimension to the Web. It supports integrating live web resources, resources in versioning systems, and archived resources in web archives into an interoperable, distributed, machine-accessible versioning system for the entire web. W3C finds Memento work with online reversion history extremely useful for the Web in general and practical application on its own standards to be able to illustrate how they evolve over time

Its smart, simple and great because it works on top of http, instead of creating a whole different way of doing the same thing.

I can already imagine memento powered twitter service or memento powered BBC redux service.

This is what disruption of online dating looks like?

202. Girl
Be on the lookout, distruption could be around the corner

Elisa of queekd.com recently challenging me about my thoughts on online dating, especially after watching my TedXManchester talk about the same subject.
I concluded that the dating industry needed a serious kick up the backside and the only way this is going to happen is if you change the model. I then mentioned what P2P protocols did to media sharing. Instead of centralisation, you can have a more decentralised and even a distributed approach to online dating.

Easily said, but what do I mean?

I was trying to find examples of what I meant but it’s very difficult googling for them as they get lost in a sea of other stuff, some of it very weird.

There was a period when a whole bunch of sites with domain names like…

youshoulddatejo.com, smartandhandsomeian.com and samwantstodateyou.com etc… (not real sites of course) Were the rage for a short while, they would pop up now and then. These people without knowing it could have changed the dating field. They all seemed to contain similar elements and it wouldn’t take long for someone or myself to modify microformat hresume into a hDating microformat (I’m not going to talk about Microdata or RDF/A as its outside the scope of this post, but yes to both). semantically rich data published on the web as way to bring a distribution model to online dating.

Steven Pemberton @ TWAB2010
Why you should have a website

I am always reminded of Steven Pemberton‘s XTech 2008 talk, Why you should have a Web Site.

The nice man from the BBC filmed it and put it online. “Provocative and contentious” said one reviewer, who later said “I should never have doubted Steven Pemberton” and “Steven Pemberton was right”. Another said “The crowd completely disagreed. In hindsight he could not have been more correct.” and “grows more relevant with each passing year”. Text of the talk here.

Steven was talking about the advantages of machine-readable Web Pages and his point knocks right at door of the walled gardens of the social networks. Swap social networks of facebook, instagram, etc for Match.com, EHarmony, OkCupid, etc’s walled gardens… and you got the same problem and same solutions?

Online dating has taken all its bad habits from social networks and to be fair most of the social networks have learned from online dating in the same way. I once talked about dataportability in online dating and to be fair everybody laughed.

But imagine if profiles were part of the public internet? When I mean public, I mean not hidden away behind a walled garden (hidden/private web). Because really what are you paying for, if you are paying at all?

I can hear you panic or even laugh… Here’s questions which might be crossing your mind

Friend of a Friend project (FOAF)
Think FoaF for dating
  • I don’t want my profile to be public!
    This is fine, I understand some rather not be so open about their status. It doesn’t have to be connected with the rest of your online profiles by the way (this is down to you)
    It doesn’t necessarily need your name or even a public photo of you (there are many ways to verify someone without such information, think about what PGP, GPGP Escrow services, Ebay, Airbnb, etc do). Also like FoaF you can even hash or encrypt parts to avoid spam, catfishers, stalkers, etc. Maybe hide parts of your dating identity till its required. Theres endless possibilities, which I haven’t even explored.
  • How do I message or email someone, and what happens if things go south?
    South meaning, things start breaking up or you want to stop them messaging you. This is a partly solved problem. There no need to have you’re real email address. Services can step in and provide emails or instant messaging solutions which expire or forward on transparency. It could also be done with a standard protocol and encrypted for further privacy. Off the Record already does this, for goodness sake lets not build new protocols (badly or jokey) to do already solved stuff! (Yes this is what most dating sites are doing now)
  • How do I trust what I am seeing or reading?
    The same is true of most dating sites now, how do you know the picture isn’t a catfish, they really are the body shape they say or show? How do you know the picture isn’t 10 years ago? All the dating site/service is really offering you is access to single people (not that is always true of course)
    This is where the idea of a blockchain for online dating could come in quite useful, to verify with reputation, but if you don’t trust the technology. You can opt for something else… or even build your own! You only have to look at the people who have hacked OkCupid (Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay’s). Imagine what they could do if not restricted to the wall garden and the systems they could write for the rest of us.
  • But its easier to pay the money and sit safely within the closed garden?
    Safely…? Total illusions. But yes its easier, but you are limited by how much you are willing to pay. The open way you can have access to many more profiles, better ways to filter them and theoretically better solutions which you can share with friends.
    This way also puts more emphasis on you to do work, but I can imagine systems and services like wordpress, medium, squarespace, etc doing the heavy lifting for you.
  • How would I search?
    You don’t think some startup will jump into this arena? If not one of the big search giants?! The beauty is if you feel one is better than the other, you can easily switch. No rubbish claims, which can’t be verified. Just imagine when gocompare/money supermarket get involved to show you the best sites to find what you seek. Or imagine crowd sourcing this all.
  • But dating site x’s algorithm is great
    Don’t worry there will be multiple services jumping over each other for your money, data or other things to prove they are the one you should use. Some will be highly manual, some will be heavily automated. Currently there is no urgency to fix, innovate or try something different. Its not all bad news for dating services, they can run their magic algorithms on the public data set.
  • But my dating service offers X, Y and Z.
    Thats nice but have you thought how effective X, Y and Z actually are? Are they a distraction or actually making dating life better? Regardless… there is the perfect opportunity to have a ecosystems of services blossom and offer unique services on top of the open, machine readable profile network.
Future of Fabrication
Distributed models are sustainable?

Think about the way search engines innovated on the structured data and offered better matches as a result. The important part is, if you don’t like what a certain service is doing  or how they treat you, you can just move elsewhere without the fear of loosing access to that person still.

Interestingly OkCupid allows you to make your profile public (very few do), so you could see it without logging in. For example, https://www2.okcupid.com/profile/beach-s?cf=regular. I have considered making my profile public before but theres not quite enough benefit to me currently. OkCupid use it as a marketing tool and there’s little you can do once you view it. Its clear OkCupid was setup to break some of the legacy behind online dating but when they sold to the Match group, that drive to change things changed focus.

Me with Canvas
Ownership?

What I’m suggesting is similar but on your terms. There are other advantages such as having access to the biggest market of daters, personalised choice, better tools than one dating site can/want to create, bespoke advice and guidance from people who really give crap. This could issue in a new era in the art of match making!

But it doesn’t stop there, oh I’ve just scratched the surface. I feel a lot of the endemic corruption in online dating is due the centralised model.

Imagine if you could aggregate that profile into the legacy dating services. Almost a IFTTT recipe or Atomkeep? to update parts of your legacy profile on a schedule or manual push.

You could allow tinder to use one photo, OkCupid to upload 4-6 photos and a deeper description, Match.com only my photos marked professional and the deeper description.

What I’m talking about is Vender relationship management applied directly on to online dating, putting the users in control.

All is possible if you rethink the current setup. unfortunately the controlling companies (MATCH group currently own 27% plus of the online dating market and they own, OkCupid, POF, Tinder and many more) have zero interest in changing much. On top of that daters seem quite lazy and less interested in working for dates?

As you can imagine, there isn’t much in this area but I did find fermat. Its a p2p matching platform. I have yet to really look and see if its doing things how I would imagine

A little assistance please?

Everybody on slack recently got a message from Slack about using Slack bots for reminders, to-do lists, etc. It’s a small thing but interesting to see more and more of the thoughts in the famous article Tim Burners-Lee wrote in Scientific America (so popular it actually costs money to read it!) about the Semantic web. (The closes we’ve got to that reality is Google now, which is highly propitery of course.)

It also reminds me of Matt’s post about bots being like plants. which I mentioned previously.

Theres been a long running task on my todo list to take advantage of telegram bots in leui of jabber/xmpp bots, it’s hardly surprising as they are very useful and who wouldn’t turn down some assistance now and there?

#MancQS What to do with all that data? Monday 6th July

BBC Dashboard

The theme for the July Quantified Self Manchester is What to do with all that QS data?

Talks are welcomed around this including.

• What do you do with the data?

• How do you import/export your data?

• What are data dashboards?

• Which data dashboard are worth using?

• What other uses of your data are there?

Be a great time to come along, meet other self trackers and discover whats possible with quantified data.

Google reaches deeply into the app data

There is something special about the experience of Google now and now something extremely magical about Google now on tap.

I’ve just gotten a chance to play around with an early build of Now on Tap, Google’s wild new feature that, in essence, does Google searches inside apps automatically. It works like this: when you’re in an app — any app — you hold down the home button. Android then figures out what is on the screen and does a Google Now search against it. A Now search is slightly different from your usual Google search, because it brings back cards that are full of structured data and actions, not just a list of links.

When I first watched the keynote, I thought of the Tim Burners-Lee Semantic Web vision (paid pdf only now).

The real power of the Semantic Web will be realized when people create many programs that collect Web content from diverse sources, process the information and exchange the results with other programs. The effectiveness of such software agents will increase exponentially as more machine-readable Web content and automated services (including other agents) become available.

Its not the semantic web thats for sure, the problem is that its amazing and the user experience is magical but its all within Googles own stack. This rather bothers (even) me for many of the ethics of data reasons. I’m sure app developers may be a little miffed too?

Following my thought, Wired had a intriguing headline Google’s Ingenious Plan to Make Apps Obsolete.

What makes Google Now’s pull away from apps even more compelling is that it was joined at I/O by a series of gentle pushes in the same direction. Google’s doing everything it can to get us all back to the web.

Now if I think the Wired piece is interesting but they are shouting down from the wrong tree. Google are climbing another tree somewhere else. Ok enough with the analogies what do I mean?

If I saw Google on tap working in the browser instead of on top of apps I would be extremely impressed and be really making solid ties between Tim Berners-Lee’s agents in the semantic web. But instead we are left with something slightly disappointing, like a parlour trick of sorts.

Don’t get me wrong its impressive but its not the big deal which I first thought it was. I’m sure the Chrome team are already working on ways to surface semi structured data to Google now, and when they do… wow!

What happened to attribution friendly Xpointer?

xpointer use for attribution

I was thinking while writing the last blog post. What happened to the Xpointer standard?

XPointer (the XML Pointer language) allows hyperlinks to point to specific parts (fragments) of XML documents.

I guess in the rush to move away from XHTML in favour of HTML5, the whole idea of compound documents got shuffled into a back alley and stabbed to death by the XHTML haters. So even if browsers supported Xpointer, it simply wouldn’t parse and therefore work.

Interestingly HTML 5.0 has embed but its not the same solution as Xpointer was solving. For example here’s wordpress creating a iframe which twitter (the 3rd party) can choose to put what they link in. I think originally it was oembed but got changed

I’m already slightly over the concern that one day my blog will be full of ads, spam, malware, tracking cookies and worst. The day that happens, I’ll be removing all iframes using XSL or a wordpress plugin.

Its a crying shame because attribution is the lifeblood of the creative industry and without it, were pretty much screwed. Its seems crazy that I can’t easily traceback my steps to how I found quotes, blog posts, etc. Right now this whole thing is broken, bookmarking isn’t the solution. It needs to be at the word level. Personal annotation style?

I have to favourite things on twitter, look through my play history and search my emails to find who actually recommended something to me. Maybe this can only be solved by the quantified self and lifestreams but I think there’s unexplored ways which xpointer was leaning towards.

Data portability and uber

With all the recent stories about the already dubious (or maybe  devious would be more fitting) Uber. Even I am starting to question how much I can really ignore, especially the God mode (yes I was aware via friends but balancing out how much benefit it brought to myself)

Helen Keegan reminds me of what I have been ignoring (I added the links by the way)…

How about throwing their dodgy off-shore tax dealings and encouraging sub-prime loans to drivers for a shiny new car without guaranteeing any work or taking any responsibility? Or maybe the lack of insurance and vetting of drivers? I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things too. And they’re not the only big tech company behaving like this mind.

Shes right, theres a lot of black marks. To be fair it was Mr Sparks which highlighted the attitude as it was being trialled in Manchester. However if you don’t like what Uber is doing, best look at what most of the silicon valley tech companies are doing. Ok so say I wanted to leave because I am sick to the back teeth of what their CEO is doing (I left Godaddy for this reason to be fair) what happens now?

Uber Lux in Amsterdam

Delete the app fine, but what about the account, data deletion and where next? I have to start again at Hailo? Why can’t I take my  reputation with me?

Theres no way to kill the account in the app, so people have asked them to kill the account. Maybe you can trust, Uber will delete the data (haven’t looked at the Eula recently to see their policy around this).

Unless specified otherwise in this Privacy and Cookie Policy, we will retain your information until you cancel your Uber account, or until your Uber account has been inactive for a year. If you wish to cancel your Uber account or request that we no longer use your information to provide you services, please contact us at support@uber.com. Upon expiry of the one year period of inactivity, we will alert you and give you two weeks to re-activate your Uber account or retrieve any personal information you want to keep. After deletion of your account we will anonymize your data, unless these data are necessary to comply with a legal obligation or resolve disputes.

Ideally you should be able to take you’re trip data and give it to another company. Dataportability please! I’ve been in a similar position before. At the same time it should shutdown the account.

My only hope is Uber upped the game of the other taxi companies out there…

Don’t be Evil Uber indeed…!

Linked data on youtube?

Triples on youtube?

I thought I’d try writing some RDF/Turtle as I see it on youtube.

<http://youtu.be/jP6kzKygaOs>
dc:title "Jason Silva on London Real talks about Vanilla Sky";
dc:publisher "London Real";
dc:subject [
  dc:subject "Vanilla Sky"
  dc:type "Film" imdb:homepage <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0259711/>
  tmdb:homepage <http://www.themoviedb.org/movie/1903-vanilla-sky>
  ]
cities:city "London".

Kind of reminds me of when people started hacking Triples into Flickr by using Machine tags. Still its interesting to see Youtube adding the ability to add a triple in a nice clean way (if its a well used ontology of course)

The first Manchester Quantified Self Meetup

Life logging

I can happily tell the world that Manchester’s first Quantified Self Meetup will be Friday 5th July at MadLab.

Madlab will update their calendar real soon but you can sign up using Meetup.com for free.

I will be giving a talk about my work time, foodfeed.us blog and fitbit to kick start discussions. Of course we’re looking for other speakers to join me and talk about there own experiences in quantified self.

When:
Friday, July 5, 2013 – 6:30 – 8:30PM
Where:
Mad Lab: 36-40 Edge Street, Manchester, United Kingdom

Details:
Manchester QS meetup consists of Show & Tell where people present or simply talk for 10-15 mins about their experience and experiments with self-tracking, quantifying and self-hacking whether it involves devices, applications or not.

This part lasts till about 8:30pm. We then move next door to Terrance or Common, which is an essential and integral part of the meetup, as important as the first part the ‘Show & Tell’. If you can join us, I encourage you to do so. Not only it’s always good fun, the conversations are equally interesting.

Where next for the quantified self?

QSAms_NIK8113

The guardian has a article titled What next for the quantified self

The quantified self movement – the idea that tracking metrics about yourself can lead to self-improvement – appears to be gathering steam. With products such as the FitBit One, Jawbone Up and Nike+ FuelBand boasting impressive sales numbers (the FuelBand reportedly sold out within four hours of its launch), it seems that self-tracking is finding traction and on the way to becoming an ubiquitous feature of daily life.

But how exactly can it break into the mainstream, and where does the future of the movement lie? Here are the five key areas where I see the quantified self going next.

The focus is on breaking into the mainstream which I’m not so bothered about but interesting the areas they identify.

  • App collaboration
    Agreed… The fact you have all these companies feeding date into their own ecosystems. Theres many projects to free the data from the ecosystems but thats just the start of the problem… don’t let me get my dataportability hat.
  • Real-time health tracking
    Yes the push towards real time is real and you can understand why…Faster, quicker, etc
  • Evolution of game mechanics
    I welcome an evolution because to date the game mechanics which have been used are pretty dreadful. I mean I’m a big guy, so whats the point of showing the amount of calories my super healthly friend is consuming. It almost like a kick in the teeth… “hey you fat boy think about your friend Joe when you have that last spoon of rice!” Yeah up yours… Actually talking to my NHS dietation way back when, she suggested the gamification of such things was very bad and should be discouraged. And before you think well she didn’t get it. I’ll tell you she was young (25ish) and had an android phone. An evolution in thinking wouldn’t go a miss, not that I’m saying run zombies run is a bad idea.
  • Fix the food problem
    Yes this is a big problem, and everything I’ve seen before to solve this problem is painful. Even my idea of taking pictures of everything I had to eat wasn’t ideal. Its just not acceptable to pull out your phone, hover above your dinner and take a picture in a restaurant. Yes I know people do it, heck I did it a lot but I can understand the weird looks I was sometimes getting. And heck don’t get me started on the eatery.
  • Google Glass (or wearables)
    The article goes off on one about Google Glass and privacy concerns… When actually the link to the quantified self is tedious at best. Regardless, as an extension of the phone it could be useful for solving the food problem maybe…?

Where I think the Quantified Self should go is (where its going already) mindhacking, workhacking, dreamhacking and narrativehacking.. There’s more areas it could and has gone but I won’t go there/describe them right now…

Use your imagination. Self improvement through data and numbers, enough said (smile).

Can’t wait to see and hear tales from the edge at the quantified self europe conference 2013

Fitbit wireless syncing, almost…

I have been using my fit bit everyday to give me feedback of how much exercise I’m getting or rather not getting in most cases. However I have no real log of details because the Fitbit won’t sync on Ubuntu or even my Android devices.

However this seems to be coming to an end…

From Fitbit’s blog

Additionally, we waited until now to launch a wristband because we wanted to be able to offer wireless syncing with Android phones as well as iPhones, iPads, and iPods with Bluetooth 4.0. We’re very excited to announce that our products will start syncing with the Samsung Galaxy SIII and Samsung Note 2 in late January/early February, and more devices will follow soon! Viva la mobile!

Its frustrating still because of course i don’t own of those devices however I noticed a comment on the Fitbit app feedback

I was extremely surprised to discover that Sync works on the Galaxy Note 10.1 (n8010) even though it’s not in the supported device list. Super app, though it does loose one star as the functionality and experience is still so far removed from the desktop interface. A little consistency would be welcome, such as the ability to access activity records. Useful if you want to sync your Fitbit on the go and log driving / traveling or any exercises. Keep up the great work though! Looking forward to the next update

Seems most of the samsung bluetooth stack is supported, so when I tried it out on my Samsung Tab 7+ it almost worked. Can’t quite get the sync working but its trying. While on my HTC One X it doesn’t even give me the option.

Indeed frustrating… but I can’t wait for the next update. Reminds me I need to check in on what happening with LibFitbit

Why no twitter import?

I said on Techgrumps 66 recently that I found it very strange that there was no Twitter dump import tools/services?

Now I have my twitter data/dump, I want to host it myself which is pretty easy because there is JSON and HTML (already thought about transforming it into XML for easier transformation in the future) but I don’t understand why Tent.io, Status.net, Facebook or heck Google don’t have an option to import your twitter data?

When Twitter made the data available to you, it was clearly yours. Aka you own the rights to all of it. So you can do what you like with it now. Including handing it over to someone else to mine and use if you so wish.

It was something we talked about again while at the dataportability group, data providers who would handle, mine and make sense of your data on your behalf.

I would consider allowing Google mine the data, if it improved my already great Google Now experience.

I would also like to see my Tent.io allow me to upload all my tweets, therefore making it a heck lot more interesting and useful.

Update… Imran reminds me Timehop supports your twitter data, actually I’ve been looking at singly.com recently…